I convinced my father-in-law to accompany me to The Abbey Theatre to redeem my tickets to see Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare. Mark's father, we'll call him "Bill," is 82 years old, worked as a mover until the age of 70, when he retired and took up windsurfing for a few years. A voracious reader, he is fascinated by World War two ("Hitler's War"), and while he doesn't read much fiction, he adores Shakespeare. He speaks passionately about Othello and the brilliance of Iago as a character. So when I won tickets from Culch.ie to see Comedy of Errors, I knew I had to take him with me. And luckily, he agreed!
Comedy of Errors is, of course, not one of Shakespeare's most played comedies. It's not as magical as A Midsummer Night's Dream, and not as sexy as As You Like It. It's not as easily adaptable to political topics as Measure for Measure, and not as bawdy as The Taming of the Shrew. But it's certainly not as convoluted as All's Well That Ends Well, nor as emotionally loaded as The Tempest. However the play was a good choice in that the plot really isn't terribly complex, and includes a lot of physical comedy, so that a person having trouble following the language could still understand the basic premise. The actors delivered the jokes very well, proving why we still read and watch Shakespeare all these years later -- because it still makes people laugh, especially his insults!
Cute directorial details that I particularly enjoyed were the big tough-guy Officer with the pip-squeak voice, and the plot signifiers such as disco dancing and the bell used repetitively throughout the play. And they used the set space very well, utilizing scaffolding towers on wheels, which they re-configured between scenes, and even mid-scene, to great effect. It proves that you don't need realism to bring an audience to another place because if the performance is good, the audience is more than ready to make that leap with you.
So we found it enjoyable. But were we overwhelmed? Well, no. But I think it's partly because Comedy of Errors isn't one of Shakespeare's best plays, and you can only do so much with it. Bill, quoting George Bernard Shaw, called it a "Potboiler." Still, there's nothing like that feeling of satisfaction when walking out of a theatre, having just seen a live performance.
Then we headed over to a pub on O'Connell Street called Madigan's. I thought it had some nice details inside, but there was a guy playing a guitar and singing through an amp, and he was about ten times louder than he needed to be, so it was a bit distracting trying to shout over it. We had one drink there and then decided to move on.
We wandered down to Brannigan's Bar, which, with it's flashing neon "BAR" sign, made me a little wary of what we'd find inside, but we walked in to discover a pleasant atmosphere and the quiet we sought for a bit of conversation. While Bill went up to get us a couple of pints, I called Mark on my mobile. He was up at the pub near our house, and was having trouble hearing me. "We're at Brannigan's," I said, "BRANNIGAN'S!" But it seemed sort of futile so we agreed to meet up later at home and hung up.
About a half hour later or so, Mark walks in, a little flustered, "Here you are!!" he says, "I was just about to give up! I called you ten times, why didn't you answer your phone?"
"Well, I told you where we were," I responded, confused.
"I thought you said Flanagan's!" he said. Apparently he went to Flanigan's first, then stopped into Madigan's, to see if we were there. And then just when he thought he would give up, he looked down the street and saw Brannigan's. I was pretty amused. There are so many bars and pubs that end in "igan" that you can get really mixed up over them!